MANILA, Philippines – The NU Lady Bulldogs got the ball rolling in their UAAP women’s volleyball title defense with an opening-day mauling of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 25-15, 25-20, 25-16, at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, February 25.
Best Opposite Spiker Alyssa Solomon topscored with 12 points off 10 attacks, 1 block, and 1 ace as Finals MVP Cess Robles scored 11 in the blowout win.
Best Setter Lams Lamina talled 17 excellent sets in the balanced offensive showing, as reigning MVP Bella Belen shone in a supporting role with 8 points off 6 attacks and 2 of the team’s 10 aces.
After setting the tone with 10-point win in the opener, NU kept up its aggressive energy all the way to the third set, where it blew the game wide open with an 18-5 start, capped by a Belen block and an Ateneo attack error.
Just when the game seemed over as the Lady Bulldogs clinched match point, 24-11, the Blue Eagles reignited their fans’ hopes after suddenly saving 5 match points in a 7-1 run overall to get within 16-24.
However, Ateneo captain Faith Nisperos’ fatigue showed just as her team was getting a groove after her service attempt came nowhere close to crossing over the net, ending the game in favor of the defending champions.
“I thank the Lord because we quickly got the win. This is a big thing for us,” said NU head coach Karl Dimaculangan in Filipino after his team’s 19th straight win dating back to 2020.
“This is a fresh start for us. Our mindset is the same from the start of last season to the time we became champions, and that is to just keep improving as a team.”
Sophomore middle blocker AC Miner paced the loss with 9 points as team veterans Vanie Gandler and captain Nisperos scored 8 apiece.
NU faces another stiff challenge in its next game on Wednesday, March 1, as it takes on the Adamson Lady Falcons at the 10 am quadruple-header curtain-raiser, still at MOA. Ateneo, meanwhile, returns at 2 pm to shoot for a bounce-back against the lowly UE Lady Warriors. – Rappler.com
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